Wednesday 26 August was the day that Hurricane Bill came through. Fortunately the sailing was completed but it was the day set aside for the Go-Kart Grand Prix. We were on tender-hooks to see if it would be a wet tyre day on the karts. It rained and blew like hell all through the night and for most of the day but fortunately most of it had passed through by 4pm – our allotted start time for the karts. We had a strong group of 13 competitors from a variety of Clubs. Team Seasalter consisted of Dave Turnbull and family(Peter & Jack) plus webmaster Martin Searle, Team Grafham included Mark and Jacob Aldridge plus late entry Eamonn Quigley who was recovering from a knee operation, team Carsington (Ray Gall and George Love) and the perennial team Shanklin (Bob and William Baker plus Charlie & Stuart Pierce). Thus there was 2 past champions (Mark Aldridge & William Baker) plus some pretty strong challengers. What we had not bargained for was much of the 420 nationals sailors were also their sailing was blown out at Plymouth and they came for some land-based competition. This cause our session some considerably delay which was spent hanging around and swatting wasps.
When our teams got on they had a 5 lap practice to determine the grid positions for race 1 and then there were 3 heats of 8 laps involving all 13 karters. The grid position for the each heat was determined by the results of the preceding race. Then the final took place between the top 6 based on the points for the 3 heats added together. As a spectator it was devilishly difficult to see who was who as they were totally covered in helmet, visor and boiler suit. Anna Aldridge got it sussed – fist there was a bit of tick-tack with George Love and then she said it was “easy – you just look into their eyes” – I must admit it did not work for me………
Mark Aldridge set off as he meant to carry on by winning the practice to take pole position from George Love for heat 1. Heat 1 was a good thrash. Mark’s aggressive driving style was plain to see and he quickly charged to the front and held on to the lead for the rest of race to take the flag from George Love, Ray Gall and William Baker. We then waited for sometime until the next heat. Stuart Pierce had a word with the race officials about the delay and they said that they would try and fit us in quicker for the following heats (I think he threatened them with Bernie Ecclestone). In heat 2 Mark held the lead throughout despite a few spots of rain but Charlie Pierce took second from Bob Baker and George Love. In the final heat Mark again won from George Love and Ray Gall with Bob Baker and Charlie Pierce in 4th & 5th.
So with all the heats concluded the final 6 were chosen for the final. These were Mark, George, Ray, Charlie, Bob and William in that order. So Mark was the favourite after a perfect score in all the heats and practice.
At the start of the final race Mark was slow off the grid and George Love nipped around him to take the lead with Ray second. After a couple of laps Mark passed Ray but George hung on to the lead aided by his low centre of gravity and Ray pecking at Mark from behind slowing him down – a kind of pincer movement of team Carsington. Just as it started to rain again George took the chequered flag to win from Mark and George was so jubilant he did a 360 degree spin with one arm held aloft to celebrate – it could not have been better if he meant to do it! Ray was 3rd and then the 3 Shanklin guys (Charlie, William and Bob) were 4th ,5th and 6th.
Thus we have a new Go-Kart champion – George Love – who took the trophy and bottle of plonk to celebrate (picture). The Sprint 15 Association provided some alcoholic prizes for the top 3 places but by that time it was raining again so we beat a hasty retreat.
Footnote: William Baker and Charlie Pierce were incredibly quick a few years ago when they were about 13 but they seem to have been caught up by the adults. This could be that their weight advantage has reduced as they grow bigger. Stuart Pierce reckons it could be that they used to be devil-may-care skateboarders but now that they are driving on the roads they have become more careful (phew). I never thought about George Love being a petrol-head but Ray assures me that he always has been. Anyway George and Ray did well and I’m sure that if Jerry Hampshire (the original Carsinton reckless karter ) had been there he would have been proud of them.